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Archive for December, 2012

2012 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 15,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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Father,

As the vicissitudes of life have turned against me,

And it seems like nothing but misfortune

Will be in my path for the foreseeable future,

Anxiety and fretful worry fill my days.

When I awaken in the middle of the night,

I am filled with dread and foreboding.

My mind races and my heart churns apprehensively.

Nevertheless, at the deepest level of my being,

A quiet persistent voice tells me to never give up.

When I rise in the morning, I am filled with resolve,

Knowing that this quiet voice came from You.

As the days pass and my pressures increase,

I feel battered and beaten at every turn.

It seems like everything that can go wrong certainly does.

Maintaining a positive outward demeanor,

I remain determined to do the next right thing,

Regardless of what that might be.

I have no other choice but to follow this path.

Despite my resolve, my insides feel numb and crushed,

As pressures from my circumstances intensify,

Weighing me down, relentlessly grinding me to despair.

As I bow my knee and ask for relief,

Which I know can only come from You,

I realize that I have no answers within me.

In the quietness of my heart,

Your voice continues to resonate,

Telling me to never, never give up.

As the weeks turn into months, with no respite from my travails,

Having been abandoned by all who once wished me well,

All that remains are those who desire me harm.

I feel undone, fearing that my heart will break,

But I have no choice but to press forward.

There is no alternative, and I cannot abandon my purpose.

It’s not in my nature to do so, and that will never change.

With that in mind, I bolster myself repeatedly affirming

That I will never give up—never, never, never give up.

Lord, my life is in Your hands, and You alone know

What day my complete restoration will come.

Until that time, I know what I must do.

I must relentlessly press forward

And never, never, never, never give up.

Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36)

Jack Watts, My Story

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Teach me to not be boastful or arrogant,

And let pride be far from me,

Knowing that this too would be my witness,

Pushing those You care about away,

Rather than drawing them near.

Help me be mindful that

Whatever I do—good or bad—

It is a reflection of who You are.

 

Question: Do you believe this is true or not? If you do, does your life attract people to God or push them away? Think about your answer, and be completely honest with yourself and with God.

Much of life has routine to it. Because of this, we become accustomed to having a measure of control over our day-to-day activities. This leads us to believe that we actually do have control. Then, for whatever reason, something happens, which is completely out of our comfort zone. And more often than not, it isn’t something we desire. Then, we can become angry, blaming God for our unpleasant circumstances.

 

Question: Has this been your experience? How angry with God have you become? Are you still angry with Him?

In the early church and in the Scriptures, being called to the ministry meant that a person was summoned to serve others, regardless of how those served might respond. Because the person chosen was serving the Lord, while serving others, fulfillment came by being faithful to God without other worldly aspirations.

Question: React to this statement. Do you believe it is true or not? Should this always be the model, or should something else replace it?

Although our desire for self-vindication may be the most predominant desire in our lives, we must realize this: If we are to be raised up, it will be by the Lord’s hand and not by our own. Our insistence upon self-vindication will end in further anger, bitterness, and resentment—nothing else. Accepting this truth is difficult, but it’s a lesson each abused person needs to learn.

Journal: Write about your need for self-vindication, being completely forthright. By writing about it, you will begin to free yourself.

For those of us in recovery, including recovery from religious abuse, we don’t promote anything. It’s never an option or even a consideration, which is very freeing. Instead, we live our life simply and unaffectedly, helping all who ask—never asking for anything in return.

Journal: React to this statement, and write about how it makes you feel.

Jack Watts   Recovery Resources

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Father,

As the years progress,

I often hear people talk

About how much they trust You,

But their pronouncements seem like a fickle lover

With a self-serving agenda rather than a commitment.

Lacking substance or depth,

Their mellifluous affirmations seem to be

Pathetic and selfish, lacking substance.

Obviously, their loyalty has not been forged

By adversity and weathered by hardship.

Their trust seems shallow and juvenile,

Rather than strong, resilient and confident.

Believing that whining and demanding

Will gain Your favor instead of humility and agreement,

They come before You with hearts that are

Petulant and peevish, lacking gratitude.

I understand their perspective completely, Lord,

Having spent the decades of my life

Coming before You in precisely the same way,

Never understanding or admitting that

You know what is best for me better than I do,

And that You are God, and I am not.

Forgive my effrontery, Father. On my best day,

I am Your spoiled child, but Your child nonetheless.

I have foolishly thought that my way is better than Yours,

But it is not. Nevertheless, I have wanted My way,

Believing that when You have refused to grant it,

You were distant and detached—unloving and uncaring.

But I have been wrong about that—completely wrong,

Just like all of Your other immature children.

You do know what’s best for me and everybody else,

Regardless of what that might be.

As I bow my knee before You, let me say,

I am Yours to do with as You see fit.

After years of foolishness, I now understand my petulance.

I wish I had known it sooner,

But I lacked the maturity to do so.

Now, as wisdom has entered my heart,

I am led to acknowledge gratefully,

You give and take away;

You give and take away;

Blessed be Your name.

Jack Watts

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Refer to STEP 3: I accept that the responsibility for getting back on track was mine and no one else’s.

“We must never allow anything to injure our relationship with God. If it does get injured, we must take time to put it right.”

—Oswald Chambers—

Like any relationship of value, it requires time and effort to repair your relationship with God when it becomes injured. This may seem obvious; but because of the pain and hurt associated with religious abuse, most choose to sweep all relational breaches under the rug, including their relationship with God—their “Divine dysfunction.”

Although this may appear to be the path of least resistance, it’s a poor idea and produces many self-defeating behaviors. Ignoring your relational problem with God doesn’t work, and it causes difficulties in nearly every area of life.

Neither does it work to say a flippant prayer either, thinking that such a trivial effort has merit. If you’ve offended your spouse, does it work to make a shallow apology?

Of course not; it’s the same with the Lord. If there’s a problem, you need to own up to it and make it right. Nothing else has any value nor is it honest. God’s grace may be all sufficient, but it certainly isn’t cheap—regardless of what some might say.

This is an important component of your recovery. It’s essential to take the time necessary to own up to your behavior, acknowledge your wrongdoing, and make appropriate changes in your life. Nothing short of this is effective, which you know is true. Concerning your relationship with God, take some time to reflect and be honest with yourself about what you see. If you do, the reward will be worth it.

Jack Watts

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Father,

In my pain and anguish,

When my heart was broken,

And I thought darkness would overwhelm me,

I felt lost and all alone, but I wasn’t.

Despite how I felt, You were there with me,

Diligently working in my heart,

Stripping me of my pretense,

Stripping me of my arrogance,

Stripping me of my self-serving ways,

Each of which had made a wasteland of my life.

Although Your child, I had no concern or awareness

Of the direction You intended for me.

My only concern was relief from my discomfort,

But Your purpose was far greater than mine.

I thought my anguish would never end

And that I would not smile at the future again,

But I was wrong about that, as well.

I knew the desire of my heart

And asked You repeatedly to grant it,

But You never did, which still saddens me.

What I have gained through my loss, however,

Has had more value than I ever imagined.

Out of the abyss, You have raised me up,

Placed my feet on solid, immovable rock,

And strengthened me with power in

The inner man—at the center of my being.

No longer fearful or timid, I’m resolute and confident.

Instead of apprehension, I am calm, strong, and sane.

And it’s all because You have changed my heart—

Transforming my perspective about what has value.

Without Your loving, consistent care,

I would never have learned my lessons

And would have been destined to repeat my mistakes

Over and over again, like an unreasoning animal

And not like a man—not like a child of the King.

To redeem what I had completely wasted,

You reached into the pit—into the mire

And emotional carnage of my life—

Redeeming my future by giving me hope.

 —Jack Watts

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Refer to Step 11: I make a commitment to nurture my relationship with the Lord, asking Him to reveal His will to me as well as the power to carry it out.

 

I will live what I teach.

I will do what I say.

I will say what I mean.

I will be honest with others.

I will put what is best for others ahead of what is best for me.

I will be transparent and vulnerable.

—Recovery Aphorisms

For your recovery to have a real, substantial, and positive impact on others, it has to be based on attraction rather than promotion. This simple truth runs contrary to nearly everything Christians in America believe. In churches and ministries, the message is promoted far and wide. It’s a methodology that often works, but certainly not for everybody.

For those of us in recovery, including recovery from religious abuse, we don’t promote anything. It’s never an option or even a consideration, which is very freeing. Instead, we live our life simply and unaffectedly, helping all who ask—never seeking anything in return. As we progress in our recovery and our relationship with God deepens, each day we become a little more like the person God created us to be. This means we are patient rather than petulant, seek to be kind rather than self-serving, and enjoy others—never looking for ways to use or manipulate them.

As our lives demonstrate proven character qualities, we become increasingly attractive to others—not physically attractive but emotionally attractive. Because others recognize that we are “safe people,” our opportunities to help become endless.

We know that attraction works—long-term and consistently. Promotion rarely does. It’s like a fast food commercial for a hamburger. What you get never meets the standard of what you’ve been promised by the commercial.

Once someone works the 11 Steps and begins to live in the freedom of recovery, there will always be people who want and need help. That’s how the principle of attraction works; and you don’t need to learn any pious platitudes. All you have to do is be real and genuine, eschewing sanctimony like the plague.

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person. (Colossians 4:5-6)

My Story

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